Characteristics, disposal methods and management of plastic waste in Watamu, Kilifi County, Kenya

Date

2019-04

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Egerton University

Abstract

Plastic waste has been and still is a major challenge and concern globally but more so in the developing countries. Plastic has been shown to impact negatively on marine life more specifically marine animals. Watamu ward, in Kilifi County, Kenya, is an important breeding ground for the critically endangered turtles and is being affected by plastic waste. The aim of this study was to assess the characteristics, disposal methods and management of plastic waste in Watamu, in order to contribute to an understanding of the plastic waste disposal practices in the country. The specific objectives were to characterize the plastic waste in Watamu, as well as their streams. Secondly, the study also assessed the factors influencing level of knowledge, attitude and perception among the general public with respect to plastic waste disposal. Thirdly, the study determined the factors that influence plastic waste disposal methods. Finally, the study assessed and described the existing plastic waste management methods in the study area. A social survey was conducted to characterize plastic waste and determine the existing plastic waste management methods in the study area. Stratified random sampling design was used to divide the population of Watamu into groups based on their sub-locations and simple random sampling was used to arrive at the sample for this study. Primary data were collected using observation, structured questionnaire and semi-structured interviews and secondary data from various sources. The data were analysed using descriptive and inferential statistics. The results show that 55.4% of the plastic waste discarded was low density polyethylene that was discarded by the public who were responsible for 69.3% of the plastic waste found discarded. According to the results, 50.7% of plastic wastes were disposed of at the open dumpsite at Timbotaka, in Watamu sub-location. Location of the respondents was a significant factor that influenced the level of knowledge, attitude and perception with respect to plastic waste disposal (FH = 25.729, p = 0.002; FH = 16.289, p = 0.033; FH = 24.145, p = 0.009). It also influenced the plastic waste disposal methods used by respondents (FH = 50.708, p = 0.000). Other factors that influenced plastic waste disposal methods include occupation FH = 30.082, p = 0.038), waste collection and presence of recycling centres. The existing plastic waste management methods are re -use and small-scale re-cycling done by locals and Eco-world respectively. In conclusion, the proximity of waste disposal sites determines the plastic waste disposal methods used by the locals. Therefore, for environmentally-sound management of plastic waste, disposal sites should be easily accessible. Further awareness campaigns and public education need also to be done on plastic waste management to facilitate proper disposal methods.

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